The circle, or should I say helix, of life

A helix is a spiral in 3 dimensions

A helix

Ok, it’s official, I’m a professional. I received my first pay slip thing this week, which really excites me. I may only be temporary, and the money may only be so that my company doesn’t break any laws against slave labour, but it still counts (it really does, check the definition of “professional”)! I still don’t have anything interesting to blog about, but during my lunch break today I realised just how circular life is (not in a good way), and I thought I’d share it.

The animated cast of the Lion King

Circle of Life

Now that I’ve got your attention, somewhat unfairly, using a picture of a childhood classic, I’ll make my point. Life is a constant cycle of starting at the bottom working your way up the food chain, getting to the top only to realise that you’ve just gotten to the bottom of an even larger chain. You start off primary school all bright eyed and bushy tailed, working your way up the ranks to Grade 7 (In South Africa and other civilised countries we really only have two school periods: primary and high school). Grade 7 is the pinnacle of primary school achievement, your final year. You’ve just spent 7 years learning basic life skills, maybe even becoming a “prefect” (only over achieving goody two shoes become one though. I never wanted to be one anyway). You think you are king of the world. Until you get to high school.

High school, the great wasteland every teenager must cross to reach the oasis of real life (ok, the real world may not be THAT great, but it sure beats high school). You spend 5 years learning reasonably useful facts, navigating the quicksand pocketed, danger infested marshlands of a social life, eventually reaching final year, or matric. Maybe you even become a “prefect” (only over achieving goody two shoes become one though. I never wanted to be one anyway). Suddenly, the world is your oyster and you think you are the bee’s knees. You make a usually ill informed choice about what to do after 12 years at school, take a tentative step possibly towards a tertiary institution, and step out into space (I’m a huge fan of mixed metaphors).

University. Another food chain (ladder more like it), bigger but less vicious than high school. You spend three or four (maybe more) years working your way up from first year to final year, eventually walking around with your beard (in a guy’s case), feeling grizzled and experienced. Then suddenly you’ve passed your final exams, and have to earn money for food. In most cases no more bumbing food off your parents, especially a hot meal everyday (if there’s one thing I didn’t appreciate staying at home it was my mom’s cooking). In order to feed yourself you generally have to get a job, kickstarting your entry into the final, but largest and harshest, food ladder of the working world. Here you tend to spend 40 years hopefully working your way up the ranks, if you’re wise: saving up for a pension. And suddenly you’ve become the lion. You have reached the throne of Pride Rock. You look out over your green planes surveying your lands. I will admit, this is hopefully where life finally gets easier. Retirement. Sitting around all day shouting at kids in hoodies on BMXs with the faint hope of getting them off your lawn. Playing with grandkids. Ideally gaming, at least in my case. This is a more cheerful thought than all the stuff about circles, odd 3D shapes and food pyramids. So if you feel life is getting you down just look forward to the end of all the work, there is one. Or you could just look at life with a non-traditional view point forsaking a career for personal freedom and happiness, which invalidates my entire post. Either way, have a good weekend, I know I will.



Employment oh boy

I’ve just finished writing exams, and four days into my holiday it’s over already. I sit here the night before my first day of work (not proper, graduate work. It’s required for my degree. But still, I’m claiming it) really rather nervous. Finding a job these says can be tricky. Even though this isn’t a permanent position, I’m still lucky to get it. I have to make a good impression: I can’t be slovenly, I have to stand up straight, comb my hair and, gasp, shave. And stuff. In other words I have to pretend be grown up, and I’m not even comfortably out of my single digits’ mindset yet.

I’ve been passing university quite well I reckon, thinking I know my stuff. I probably do know my stuff, most of it anyway. But here I am wracked with doubt about my competence, all because my future may depend on it…there’s a scary thought. Now I’m even more frightened. I had originally planned on writing about the pressure placed upon the youth of today to obtain employment and that it isn’t all that big a deal. I was even going to offer some friendly advice. But I realised it wouldn’t make that much difference, certainly not from a fledgling like me, and it wouldn’t be particularly interesting anyway. So I’ll take solace in the fact that I’ll have more interesting things to blog about once I’ve got some work experience and work experiences worth sharing.


Rant: Legally grey, morally just plain wrong traffic offences

So it seems most of my posts are rants, but it seems a lot of people rant, and a lot people enjoy reading rants (I know I do), so I thought I’d get something of my chest: people who do not understand the rules of the perishing road!

I’m writing this from a South African point of view (where in the civilised world we drive on the LEFT hand side of the road), so I’ll briefly explain the rules as I go along for people who don’t drive, or live somewhere where the traffic rules are different.

USING INDICATORS: people who do not indicate should be punished severely, like being hanged until near death or any other suitable unpleasant but ultimately non-fatal experience. Why, do you ask? Well, if someone is turning instead of going straight at an intersection, if you would like to turn you may do so because you and the person will both turn avoiding each other (see fig. 1).

Now, if the oncoming car indicates he/she is turning, both of you can carry on turning, saving time and keeping everyone calm. But if the oncoming car does not indicate, then you must wait for them to cross. This is all fine, going straight has right of way, no argument here, in a perfect world that’s ideal etc. etc…But if the neanderthal, idiot, scummy scum person does turn, that means you were waiting for them for no reason! This is the reason for road rage. For unnecessary violence. For cars being vandalised and set on fire. Heck, I was with a friend who was driving when this exact situation happened. When he saw the guy turning without indicating he flipped. I thought he was preparing to feast upon the blood of the innocent from all the anger he was outputting. I may have been slightly worried for my life.

Whew…I’m glad that’s out my system. There are many, many other minor rules of the road violations that cause me to experience violent outbursts, I’m sure I’ll get to them later. Now for a joke to cheer everyone up after that. It does play upon Irish stereotypes (no offence intended however) a bit, but I laughed out loud when I heard it (I refuse to use LOL…or YOLO):

“An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman walk into a bar at the exact same time. They all walk over to and sit at the bar at the same time, and at the same time they all order their own pint of Guiness. Once the pints have been set on the bar in front of them, a fly (3 separate flies) falls into each of the glasses at the same time.

The Englishman picks up his glass, sees the fly, puts the glass down and doesn’t drink the beer. The Scotsman picks up his glass, sees the fly, picks it out, throws it away and drinks his beer. The Irishman grabs his glass, sees the fly in his beer, picks it out and yells at the fly: ‘Spit it out ye bastard!'”


Chick flicks

I remember growing up in sunny suburbia, when the days seemed endless, the sun was perpetually shining, and my friends and I had nothing better to do than climb trees and swim. I then became older, moving from the outside arena of entertainment towards the inside arena of TV and video games. I then became older still, and I remember when I was first allowed to watch The Terminator and Die Hard. That was possibly the turning point of my world of entertainment. In primary and high school it certainly wasn’t considered OK to watch romantic comedies, so I took my age group’s word for it, and I watched all the action movies I could get my hands on, the entire experience culminating with my viewing of The Matrix. It still holds a spot in my top five favourite films ever….But I’m rambling, and badly. Sorry about that.

The point of this post is to discuss the social stereotype of guys not watching chick flicks, and if they do it’s only because their girlfriends make them. Which I personally find utter nonsense. The idea of falling in love, finding the right person for oneself, and happy endings are still relevant topics for guys, except it’s become socially unacceptable to say this because it’s deemed unmanly. I used to care about whether or not people thought I was a manly man, but that was back when I wasn’t particularly manly. Now that I’ve been at university for a while, I’ve gained a lot in life experience, and I like to think I’ve manned up a bit. This reminds me of the C.S. Lewis quote about childishness:

“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
― C.S. Lewis

And so I feel I am able to say I like chick flicks (well ones with happy endings anyway). I write this having just watched The Lucky One, the one about the marine who finds a picture of a lady and tries to find her after he gets back from Iraq. I’ll even admit I quite enjoyed, but it’s not amazing. Not when compared to Nottinghill, Love Actually, or Crazy, Stupid Love anyway.

So in conclusion, I think guys should come out and admit they like romantic comedies, just like they should admit that they absolutely animated movies (I do anyway), Disney classics included. It’s more manly to be open about it, and you’ll feel better being able to watch the movies you secretly enjoyed anyway.


Some thoughts for exams

I live in sunny South Africa, which means I live in the southern hemisphere, which in turn means I follow  a different academic year to Europe and North America. So I’m currently in the middle of my mid-year exams. But I’d just like to wish any readers good luck for the exam period if you are in fact writing exams, and especially if you’re still writing finals.

So instead of studying I was being a good procrastinator and surfing the net when I stumbled upon (not using the website) the following prayer specifically written for students:

23rd Psalm for Students

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not flunk
He keepeth me from lying down when I should be studying
He leadeth me beside the water cooler for a study break
He restores my faith in study guides
He leads me to better study habits
For my grades’ sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of borderline grades
I will not have a nervous breakdown
For Thou art with me
My prayers and my friends, they comfort me
Thou givest me the answer in moments of blankness
Thou anointest my head with understanding
My test paper runneth over with questions I recognise.
Surely passing grades and flying colours shall follow me
All the days of my examinations
And I shall not have to dwell in this exam hall forever.


(It can be found here )

I really do find this quite amusing, but also helpful, especially the night before my toughest exam: Soil Mechanics (I never knew walking along the beach would be such a complicated business :/). I also stumbled upon this during my virtual travels (ok, I confess I was emailed it):

“A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer are all given identical rubber balls and told to find the volume. They are given anything they want to measure it, and have all the time they need. The mathematician pulls out a measuring tape and records the circumference. He then divides by two times pi to get the radius, cubes that, multiplies by pi again, and then multiplies by four-thirds and thereby calculates the volume. The physicist gets a bucket of water, places 1.00000 gallons of water in the bucket, drops in the ball, and measures the displacement to six significant figures. And the engineer? He writes down the serial number of the ball, and looks it up.”

I’ll admit it’s an ultra nerd joke, but as I said, anything to avoid studying right? I thought it was funny anyway.


Pop culture – Vampires


For the record Twihards I am not attacking your beloved book series in particular, I’m speaking generally here (but yeah, I’m criticising it).

100+ year old men hitting on barely legal teenagers, girls offering up their own blood to feed their boyfriends’ hunger. This is the kind of stuff that seems to be popular with the modern idea-of-lovestruck teenage (and university student) girls. Which just isn’t right. Did you know that Edward and Bella’s relationship meets all the criteria for an abusive relationship according to American National Domestic Violence Hotline? That’s pretty messed up, at least by what I thought were my normal standards. And worst of all, it seems alright to kill people, feast upon them and go completely unpunished by the normal humans who know them. And why do the normal people find this ok? Because the undead murderer is trying to “fight the urge for blood”. In a just world the human’d drive a stake through the vampire’s heart, not fall in bloody love with it! And worst of all, Edward’s a cannibal. Now, you might try and make the claim he isn’t human anymore. But that’s a lie. If he can get Bella pregnant it means he has human DNA, ergo he’s human. Cannibalism!

The idea of vampires is not new. Ever since the Middle ages there have been rumors about them, mainly coming from Eastern Europe. Tales about undead creatures terrorising entire towns, the Devil himself incarnate, and flying creatures breaking and entering and committing aggravated assault on hapless women in nightgowns. This is the stuff of proper vampire stories. The kind of stuff that inspires people to train in martial warfare for years, honing their bodies and minds to perfection in order to do battle with evil undead creatures and save the world! Teenage angst should be nowhere to be found.

Not since Blade 3 have I seen a proper vampire movie (the new Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman was average I found). Blade, a half human, half vampire killing machine resists his natural impulses and kicks ass, takes names and saves the world. He doesn’t have time falling in love with people, he’s too busy saving us mortals from extinction! Not even the recent disappointing Dark Shadows changed anything. It had so much potential, but turned out half baked. Johnny Depp was good in it though, which is a plus.

All this while I should have been studying for my imminent exam. But I find it’s good to rant occasionally.


My view – Prometheus

So Prometheus was released this past Friday in South Africa, and it being sci-fi I obviously went to see opening night. Supposedly it was this year’s big blockbuster, but the only way I knew about it was that I’d seen the trailer in previous movies, which was really compelling. But, as we all know, trailers aren’t always accurate portrayals of movies. I found most of the best bits were in the trailer.

And the movie leaves quite a few things unexplained, and even if they’re not plot critical, it’s still frustrating. So I sat quite perplexed throughout the movie. That is until the end. The end blew my mind a little, maybe even a lot. I didn’t expect it at all. The end makes the movie make a lot more sense, even if you do pick up on the subtle references to its pedigree through out the movie. Ridley Scott, you could have done more though.

It was also good to see Noomi Rapace from the Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movies in Western cinema. I thought she did good job in those. And for the record I don’t dislike non-western movies, I just can’t speak Swedish.